FRONT ROYAL — Councilman Eugene Tewalt has announced his candidacy in the upcoming mayoral special election.
The mayor’s seat became available upon former Mayor Hollis Tharpe’s resignation as he faced a misdemeanor charge of prostitution solicitation, a case which was dropped. Tharpe is the only other candidate on the ballot as he attempts to reclaim the seat.
According to a news release, Tewalt served on Town Council from 2000-2004, 2006-2008 and has been a councilman since 2012. He was mayor from 2008 to 2010, an election in which he defeated Tharpe.
Tewalt said over the phone that he does not have any regrets as a councilman and feels that he has served the public to his best ability. He added that while some things could have been done better, some things could have been done worse.
He said his proudest accomplishment is “getting all of the projects completed that had been on the books for 10 years” during his stint as mayor.
While Tewalt said he would miss having a vote — as a mayor he can only serve as a tiebreaker — he has always enjoyed leadership roles and being mayor would allow him “to take the lead.”
The new mayor will fill out the remainder of Tharpe’s term, which is set to expire at the end of 2020.
Matt Tederick has been serving as interim mayor, a position Tewalt said he was offered but declined because of a state law that would have rendered him unable to retain his council seat had he become interim mayor and lost in the special election. If his bid for mayor is unsuccessful, he will remain on council since he did not accept the interim position.
A Front Royal resident since 1974, the release states that Tewalt retired from the town of Front Royal after being director of public works for 25 years.
Tewalt states in the release that, if elected, he will be “accessible to hear your needs at all times since I am retired.” Tewalt said his main focus would be making himself available to the public and listening to citizens’ concerns.
He said goals would also include looking out for every citizen and making decisions based on what is best for the community as a whole. He added that politicians should look out for the good of the taxpayers, not their personal interest — something that he said is not currently a problem.
Tewalt states in the release that other areas of focus would include “controlled growth, getting rid of traffic congestion...improving tourism and keeping downtown beautiful.” He also states that he wants to “heal the wounds that were created by [the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority]” and improving town and county relations.
He said that local elections are supposed to be non-partisan but described himself as a fiscal conservative — although he has voted for Democratic and Republican candidates — who believes the town should get a dollar worth of goods for every dollar spent.